Most people have had a minor knee problem at one time or another. Most of the time our body movements do not cause problems, but it’s not surprising that symptoms develop from everyday wear and tear, overuse, or injury. Knee problems and injuries most often occur during sports or recreational activities, work-related tasks, or house work.
The knee is the largest joint in the body. The upper and lower bones of the knee are separated by two discs (menisci). The upper leg bone (femur) and the lower leg bones (tibia and fibula) are connected by ligaments, tendons, and muscles. The surface of the bones inside the knee joint is covered by articular cartilage, which absorbs shock and provides a smooth, gliding surface for joint movement.
Although a knee problem is often caused by an injury to one or more of these structures, it may have another cause. Some people are more likely to develop knee problems than others. Many jobs, sports and recreation activities, getting older, or having a disease such as osteoporosis or arthritis increase your chances of having problems with your knees.
Sudden (Acute) Knee Injuries
Knee Injuries are the most common cause of knee problems. Sudden (acute) injuries may be caused by a direct blow to the knee or from abnormal twisting, bending the knee, or falling on the knee. Pain, bruising, or swelling may be severe and develop within minutes of the injury. Nerves or blood vessels may be pinched or damaged during the injury. The knee or lower leg may feel numb, weak, or cold; tingle; or look pale or blue. Acute injuries include:
- Sprains and strains
- Meniscus Tear
- Tear at Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) or medial collateral ligament (MCL).
- Breaks (fracture) of the kneecap.
- Kneecap dislocation. Pieces of bone or tissue (loose bodies) from a fracture or dislocation may get caught in the joint and interfere with movement.
- Knee joint dislocation.
Overuse Knee Injuries
Overuse injuries occur with repetitive activities or repeated or prolonged pressure on the knee. Activities such as stair climbing, bicycle riding, jogging, or jumping stress joints and other tissues and can lead to irritation and inflammation. Overuse injuries include:
- Knee bursitis.
- Knee Tendinitis or Knee Tendinosis.
- Plica syndrome.
- Pain in the kneecap – patellofemoral pain syndrome.
- Iliotibial band syndrome.
Conditions that may Cause Knee Problems
Problems not directly related to an injury or overuse may occur in or around the knee.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Osgood-Schlatter disease
- Popliteal (or Baker’s) cyst
- Osteochondritis dissecans
Treatment for Knee Pain
Treatment for a knee problem or injury may include:
- Lubricant Injection
- Surgery for severe damage to the knee ligaments or cartilage